DEMOCRACIES are founded and sustained on the basis of a country’s ability to conduct free and fair elections on a regular basis, thus enabling the electorate to freely choose its leaders.
It is only through casting of the ballot that citizens are afforded an opportunity to decide who should govern them.
But the voting process is usually a long process that does not start and end on the day people troop to the polling booth.
A great deal of planning and other administrative work is required.
It is important to note that Zimbabwe had taken the right step by establishing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), whose role should include carrying out seamless voter awareness campaigns, registration and administer the actual voting process.
Zec must not only be known for presiding over shambolic elections.
Zimbabwe needs an electoral body that is determined to live up to the Constitution’s provisions — making sure that all eligible voters register to cast their votes in a free atmosphere.
This is important because there has already been shocking ineptitude by Zec in the ongoing voter registration programme where only 82 people registered to vote in Matabeleland South between April 1 and May 31, 2021.
There was also worrying apathy in Bulawayo province.
It is surprising that Zec was quick to warn that the two provinces could lose constituencies ahead of elections in 2023 if they fail to reach the required 26 000 registered voter threshold.
How effective has been Zec’s voter registration campaign?
What measures have Zec put in place to make it easy for people to register to vote under the current uncertainities where people may not be sure if they will be free to travel the next day due to COVID-19-induced restrictions?
We remind political parties that it is also their duty to complement Zec in rallying their supporters to register to vote.
This is in their best interest because the more their supporters register, the more their chances of winning.
Political parties must not sleep behind the wheel and cry foul when their peers win.
They must work to build a strong democracy.
They survive on mass support and must, therefore, invest in growing their support base.
Past elections have previously been marred by voter apathy, particularly by the youth, and this does not bode well for a constitutional democracy because at the end of the day, the electorate ends up with leaders it did not vote for.
It would be a sad day for Zimbabwe to reach election day with only a handful of people eligible to vote.
If this happens in 2023, Zec and political parties must equally shoulder the blame.